Flippin' Through Franchises: Leprechaun

Every now and then in life, you have moments where you act blindly without clearly thinking things through, and then you immediately regret your actions. I’m sure it has happened to all of us. You snap at someone and say something you don’t mean. Maybe you turn down a job offer and then only a few seconds later, you start to wonder if you actually made the right decision. Or in my case, you spend 45 dollars on the Leprechaun box set and then open it right away, thus removing any possibility of returning it later when you’ve come to your senses.

I’m familiar enough with the Leprechaun series to be genuinely surprised with myself that I spent money on it, let alone 45 dollars. I knew I had seen at least the first four movies many years ago, and I don’t recall being a fan of any of them. In fact, I remember turning the fourth movie off before we made it half way through it. Now I’m stuck with a set containing the whole lot of them, so at the very least I can get some more writing content out of them.

Leprechaun is about a Leprechaun played by Warwick Davis whose sole purpose in life seems to be murdering people who steal his gold. It’s strange as all of the movies are predicated on this concept and he always seems so angry when his gold is missing, yet he never seems to actually do anything with his gold. He just counts it. I guess it’s the principle of the thing. At the same time, what does he do during the times where nobody has stolen any of his gold? We never get to see his down time. Would he not be bored stiff? Seeking out his gold seems to be his one and only past time but there must be times where it’s all safe and accounted for. One of the sequels really needs to explore these questions. I want to see sad and lonely Leprechaun who questions his very existence and purpose in life. That is a reboot I would gladly help Kickstart.

The first Leprechaun’s big claim is that it stars Jennifer Aniston in her first big role. She does well. She doesn’t phone it in and you can certainly see why she went on to become the big name that she did. She has some of the funnier line readings and of course looks fantastic. Her character does start out annoying as she is the typical whiny, entitled LA brat, but thankfully they drop that angle pretty quickly and she becomes far easier to root for.

The cast around Aniston is fine but she definitely outshines them all. Her love interest is a fairly typical bland, male lead. His two business partners (the three of them have a painting business called Three Guys Who Paint, a name I admit I like), a young boy (Alex) and a dude who is not all there mentally (Ozzie), fare better. Though it becomes tiresome watching Ozzie try and convince everyone that there is a leprechaun. I think I am largely done with stories where half the run time is spent watching one character try and convince everyone else about something supernatural, even though we the audience already know they are telling the truth. At least here it can be explained away by the man having the mental capacity of a child, so it makes a little more sense that nobody would believe him about the fictional creature he encountered in the basement.

Davis is of course good as the Leprechaun. He takes a character that easily could have been grating (though I guess that’s still an issue in the eyes of many people) and makes him fairly entertaining. Though as mentioned above, the actual character of the leprechaun is quite thin. With the more famous movie killers such as Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers, there may not be a whole lot to them overall but we do know their backstories and at least some idea of why they are doing what they’re doing. All we know about Leprechaun is that he doesn’t like it when people steal his gold and that he is, in fact, a leprechaun.

I remembered the Leprechaun character as starting out more serious, and then becoming sillier and sillier as the series progressed. The same thing that happened with Freddy Krueger. It turns out that he has been a fucking goofball right from the very beginning. Even here in the first movie he is delivering bad one-liners, using ridiculous items such as pogo sticks to commit his murders and riding around on a tricycle. At one point he even crashes through a fence, leaving a Leprechaun shaped hole behind ala The Looney Tunes. I don’t know if this approach fully works here as tonally the movie is a bit all over the place. Apparently this was filmed as a fairly silly PG-13 movie and reshoots were done in order to bring it up to a darker, R-rated movie. You can tell. The movie shifts from straight-faced to cartoonish from scene to scene, which can certainly be jarring. There’s also a long chase/kill sequence in the middle of the movie that is so disconnected to everything around it, that it is very obviously a reshoot that was done to up the murder quotient of the film. It’s a surprisingly serious sequence in the midst of a bunch of silly shit.

This is the major problem with the film. It’s trying to be a lot of things at once and because of this lack of focus, it doesn’t really excel at any one individual thing. It doesn’t really commit to the horror so it isn’t scary. It doesn’t really commit to the comedy so it isn’t very funny (though Alex’s final one-liner, though obvious, is quite good). There isn’t enough gore for it to be appreciated on that level as the kill count is low and only one of them, which involves a pogo stick, is even slightly memorable.

It certainly does not bode well for the series when its initial offering, and the entry that is largely considered to be the “only decent one”, is this mediocre. It’s not as bad as perhaps its reputation often suggests, but it’s certainly not a good movie. Watchable is about the best compliment that I can pay it I think. And there are still 5 more of these things to go! Weeee!